Commemorated on October 11
Theophanes the Confessor, Composer of Canons, Bishop of Nicea, was the
younger brother of the Monk Theodore the Lettered-Upon (Comm.
27 December). The brothers received an excellent education, and were
particularly involved in philosophy. Striving towards knowledge of God, they
settled in the Laura monastery of Saint Sava. Here the Monk Theophanes was
tonsured, and after a certain while became a presbyter.
The holy brothers
were famed as advocates of icon-veneration. They boldly fulfilled the mission
entrusted them by the Patriarch of Jerusalem and set off to Constantinople to
denounce the iconoclast emperor Leo the Armenian (813-820). And afterwards they
denounced also the iconoclast emperors Michael Balbos (820-829) and Theophilos
The saints had to
endure imprisonment, hunger, even tortures. The emperor Theophilos gave orders
to inscribe upon their faces with red-hot needles a phrase insulting to the
glorious confessors (wherefore they are called "Lettered-Upon").
"Write whatever thou dost wish, but at the Last Judgement thou shalt read
thine writing", – said the agonised brothers to the emperor. They
dispatched Theodore to prison, where also he died (+ 833), but Theophanes they
sent into exile. With the restoration of Icon-veneration the Monk Theophanes
was returned from exile and ordained bishop of Nicea. The saint wrote about 150
canons, among which is a beautiful canon in defense of holy icons. The monk
died peacefully in about the year 850.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.